Space

An international team of astronomers, led by Felipe Braga-Ribas (Observatório Nacional/MCTI, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), has used telescopes at seven locations in South America, including the 1.54-meter Danish and TRAPPIST telescopes at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, to make a surprise discovery in the outer Solar System.

A research team has detected water vapor in the atmosphere of tau Boo b, a "hot Jupiter" planet outside our solar system. 

The team applied a Doppler technique to the infrared to directly detect tau Boo b and demonstrate the presence of water in its atmosphere. Tau Boo b orbits the nearby star tau Boötis, 51 light years away. Unlike our Jupiter, which is fairly cold and has an orbital period of about 12 years, the hot Jupiter tau Boo b orbits its star every 3.3 days and is heated to extreme temperatures by its proximity to the star. Under these conditions, water will exist as a high temperature steam.


2 million images collected by NASA's orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope, which went into space in 2003, have been stitched together to create a 360 degree portrait of the Milky Way.


The world's leading particle collider experiments, Fermilab's Tevatron and CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), have joined forces. Scientists from the four experiments involved — ATLAS, CDF, CMS and DZero — announced their joint findings on the mass of the top quark today at the Rencontres de Moriond international physics conference in Italy. 

They pooled their data analysis power to arrive at a new world's best value for the mass of the top quark of 173.34 plus/minus 0.76 GeV/c2.


Scientists have discovered a new, persistent structure in one of two radiation belts surrounding Earth  - high-energy electrons in the inner Van Allen radiation belt display a persistent pattern that resembles slanted zebra stripes.

Surprisingly, this structure made of high-energy electrons is produced by the slow rotation of Earth, previously considered incapable of affecting the motion of radiation belt particles, which have velocities approaching the speed of light.


New evidence gathered by NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft at Mercury solves an apparent enigma about Mercury's evolution. 

The data indicate the tiny planet closest to the sun, only slightly larger than earth's moon, has shrunk up to 7 kilometers in radius over the past 4 billion years, much more than earlier estimates. Older images of surface features indicated that, despite cooling over its lifetime, the rocky planet had barely shrunk at all. But modeling of the planet's formation and aging could not explain that finding.


Did our two Viking landers find life on Mars in 1976? Astonishingly, thirty seven years later, we still haven't sent anything to Mars able to answer this question for sure.  None of our spacecraft since Viking would be able to spot life which we now know exists in the driest deserts on Earth, and only one of the experiments on Viking had this capability. There are  hypotheses about what they found, but no definite proof.

A few years back, to everyone's complete surprise, Joseph Miller, specialist in rhythms of life, spotted smooth daily cycles in the data from 1976, strongly suggesting life processes. So did Viking spot life or are these smooth cycles signs of something else, perhaps some complex chemistry?

BICEP, the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization, is an experiment that used almost 100 detectors to scan the sky at microwave frequencies ( 100 GHz and 150 GHz, angular resolutions of 1.0° and 0.7°) in order to measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB).

There's a cosmic war happening between
highly luminous O-type stars and nearby protostars in the Orion Nebula
.

The Orion Nebula is home to hundreds of young stars and even younger protostars known as proplyds. Many of these nascent systems will go on to develop planets, while others will have their planet-forming dust and gas blasted away by the fierce ultraviolet radiation emitted by massive O-type stars that lurk nearby.


Calling H.P. Lovecraft: Galaxies in the vast empty regions of the Universe are actually aligned into tendrils. 

A team of astronomers based at The University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) has found short strings of faint galaxies in what were previously thought to be extremely empty parts of space. The Universe is full of vast collections of galaxies that are arranged into an intricate web of clusters and nodes connected by long strings. This remarkably organized structure is often called the 'cosmic web', with busy intersections of galaxies surrounding vast spaces, empty of anything visible to us on Earth.